La Bella Napoli reborn at 60
The Americans came with the chewing gum, Alfredo d’Amore came with the pizza. In June 1950, at 56 via San Felice here is Bologna’s first pizzeria, La Bella Napoli, taking place of a tavern. The absolute novelty instantly loved by the Bolognese.
50 years later, in 2001, it was taken over by the young new manager Salvatore Marrazzo and his family including wife and sister, who decided to renovate the place, maintaining however the interior’s imprint and the “D’Amore” sign.
La Bella Napoli is not just one of many pizzerias, it is “the first one”. Back when Bologna was still being tortured by bombs and hunger, a wave of change was brought by a Neapolitan sgt. Alfredo d’Amore, discharged from the Carabinieri to Bologna a few years before, where he had also worked as a guard and a janitor. In the new venture he undertook, he was assisted by his wife Gaetana, a knitter, and his five children, Franco, Silvana, Alfredo, Tina and Rita. The success didn’t take long to come thanks to the secret recipe of the dough studied by Alfredo in Naples: water, flour, salt, yeast and… The “balls” were prepared by signora Gaetana and “at that point even us, her children, had to leave the kitchen”, recalls Rita d’Amore.
Normal size pizza - 50 lire, giant one - 75. In the end, only the “smaller size” pizza was chosen to remain, and it is still made in the present time. “You could fit more of them in the oven, they took less to cook and more to get cold once at table.”
In the 1980s, after opening the pizzeria’s second room, D’Amore buys the building itself. “We are a big family”, says Marrazzo, who was assisted for a whole year by the D’Amore after taking over. “Now it’s my wife who prepares “the balls”. 400 a day, 600 in the weekend.
Celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2010 La Bella Napoli appeared renovated: brick walls, restored paintings, wine cellar, cold meats counter, renovated services and equipment, the third “little tavern” room available for private parties and business meetings. The pizza, however, is always the same. It is the early postwar years D’Amore’s pizza. The unique one.
Fernando Pellerano, 3 November 2009